Middle-aged woman gang-raped at panchayat

Police say they will register an FIR based on the victim’s medical report


Owais Qarni January 31, 2016
PHOTO: REUTERS

MULTAN: A middle-aged woman was allegedly gang-raped on Friday by at least five men in Muzaffargarh in collaboration with members of a panchayat or village council.

The sickening incident bears resemblance to Mukhtaran Mai’s gang-rape at a panchayat’s orders in the same district in 2002.

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Police say they will only register an FIR once the victim undergoes medical tests. The check-up is expected to be conducted today (Monday).

Last week, Noor Muhammad, a resident of Lundi Pitafi in Jatoi, had approached the panchayat with a complaint that Basharat*, the victim’s brother-in-law, had an illicit relationship with his daughter.

The council members visited Basharat's* home on January 27. Fearing retribution, Basharat* had gone into hiding and his sister-in-law, 47-year old N*, told them that she could prove the allegations were concocted. She was told to argue her case before the panchayat the next day after evening prayers.

On Friday, N* along with her mother-in-law, and around six male members of her family, went to Noor Muhammad’s house, where the panchayat was to convene.

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There, the panchayat head asked N* to go into the house where women were waiting. The men accompanying her were stopped from entering the place.

Once she entered the house, N* says she was allegedly assaulted by seven men. Five of them dragged her into a room where they allegedly beat her and raped her.

When her relatives heard her cries, they forced their way in and rescued her. During the commotion the heads of the council and the assailants managed to escape.

Later that night, N’s* family approached a police check post in Lundi Pitafi to register a complaint, but they were told to visit the Mir Hazar Khan police station to lodge a formal complaint.

The family visited the police station the following morning but found the SHO, Nasrullah Khan, absent. When they managed to get through to the SHO, he told them to return the next day. On Sunday, he heard the victim’s complaint but refused to immediately register a case, instead he issued a letter for the women’s medical examination.

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The victim’s family have warned that if the medical examination is not conducted, they will stage a protest.

*Names of victim and her relatives have been changed to protect identity

Published in The Express Tribune, February 1st,  2016.

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